Are we teaching our kids lessons they need, or the lessons we needed growing up? It seems to get pretty muddy at times. When I was about 8 years old (or maybe I was 5- I admittedly do not have the best memory), my friends were in gymnastics and I desperately wanted to be as well. I asked my mom, figuring money and time would mean a “No”, but she took me to the gym to try it out. The folks there wanted me to walk on the balance beam. Not the tall one off the ground, the one right on the ground. It wasn’t even as tall as a stair, but I was paralyzed by fear. I couldn’t do it. What was I afraid of? Falling? It wouldn’t hurt even if I did. Did I not like people watching me? Maybe. Was I nervous about what could come after the little beam on the ground? Probably. Needless to say I never did it. Mom was pretty frustrated, but relieved I’m sure.

Fast forward 33 (or 36?) years later and my 9 year old wants to go out for the play. Students have to audition and may not get a part. He decides not to do it- what if he doesn’t get a part? I spent the weekend teasing about him doing it and he seemed to just dig in deeper- he wasn’t doing it. (meanwhile my middle child, 8 years old, was all in and didn’t seem concerned at all about not getting a part) I asked the principal about it and shared what she said with Elijah. She confirmed that not everyone would get a part, and added older kids usually did get parts because there were fewer of them auditioning. I promised him cookies either way and he finally decided to go for it. He wanted the part of John, the older of Wendy’s two brothers in “Peter Pan”. I figured that wouldn’t happen, and prayed for him to just get a part. Any part.¬† I’m not sure I’ve ever been that nervous before, waiting for their names to called was a grueling 15 minutes.

I was so proud of him for going for it in a way I never did at his age. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever put myself out there like that. While I may take chances and zig zag my way through life, I never did anything I wasn’t sure would work out. But he did, and he did it because I encouraged him to. I gave him the ability, the confidence to do something I couldn’t do at his age.

He got the part he wanted. He also learned to take chances. A lesson I needed at his age. Did I do it for him, or for me? Will I miss other lessons he needs now because I’m looking through the lens of my childhood, when I need to be looking through the lens of his childhood? Or are they one in the same?


The “Especially Lost¬† Boy- Petey” & “John”

3 thoughts on “Gymnastics

  1. Wow, this slice is a piece of powerful introspection. Great questions! I find myself teaching my 4 year old lessons I wish my 10 year old students could learn. And, is that good, preemptive parenting, or expecting too much?

  2. Such a thought-provoking post! It’s always so challenging to figure out what our children need from us in the moment–comfort that something is really hard or a push to do it anyway? And I would imagine many of our choices in that moment are filtered through what WE needed as children rather than what our children need! I’ll be thinking about this all day!

  3. Parenting is full of all kinds of interesting bits to ponder. This is one I had never thought of before! Has he enjoyed his time on stage? Do you ever walk on the concrete dividers in parking lots, just to get that ‘beam’ feel now?

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